Former Flat Track Canada National Champ Doug Lawrence is just about ready for his first National of the season, round two of the American Flat Track National Championship, coming up this weekend in Georgia. Lawrence will compete in the Harley-Davidson Atlanta Short Track presented by Hellbender Harley-Davidson at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock on Saturday, April 7.
“Atlanta, round two, was always part of the plan,” explained Lawrence prior to his next trip south. “We’re warmed up, and getting back in the game. This should be a good track for us, a forgiving track, it’s round and slippery, so that should work for us. The stage is set to get back on the pace.”
After skipping most of the American Flat Track series last season, this year Lawrence plans to compete on the tour full-time for the next couple of months.
“For Atlanta, it will be one motorcycle only, and that is our Harley-Davidson XR750,” confirms Lawrence. “We always had the plan to use the XR for the half miles, and then move to our new Kawasaki at the big (mile) tracks.”
Last month, Lawrence and his tuner/father Doug Sr. went south for the traditional warm-up events, bringing both their established XR and brand new Ninja twins. That program was a success, so now they are ready to get back on the premier Flat Track tour.
“We had two days with the Kawasaki testing at Savannah, and then raced the XR. Then we went to Volusia and raced the Kawasaki, and we were satisfied with the progress overall from those events.
“We had slow starts racing the XR, but we worked up good enough to get third, we were really going good on my kind of track, behind Brad Baker (Indian) and Kenny Coolbeth (Indian). As far as the slow start, my excuse is that it is tough to come off the bench!”
“At Volusia, we maybe should have ridden our XR, but we needed to race the Kawasaki, learn about that bike, so I knew going in that would be the harder plan. We were getting there with the Ninja, getting faster, and the shorter 15 lap race actually helped us.”
“We defiantly would have done really well with the XR at Volusia, but that wasn’t a goal. We got a 4th and a 6th with our Kawasaki, and we are getting there with the chassis and the handling in terms of set-up. Our whole mission for the trip south was accomplished, the lap times on the XR750 were fast, we are right there, where we need to be.”
“With the Kawasaki, we were about .2 of a second behind Jared Mees (Indian FTR750 mounted National Champ), so that is a positive. I’m not planning to race the Kawasaki on the Half Miles, it is there for the Mile races.”
“At Atlanta this weekend, the goal is obviously to make the Main event,” considers Lawrence. “With the new format down there, you only really have one shot to make it into the feature, and you can’t risk any kind of issue.
“Things have changed with the American Flat Track tour, and it will take some adjustments,” continues Lawrence. “People are riding all the time, practicing, where as ten ears ago, people were busy working on their bikes. Now the top guys have paid mechanics to look after their twins. It’s tougher now, and you have to be mentally stronger.”
“Things are really serious now, everyone is in this to make a living,” continues Lawrence of the revamped National Tour. “It is different to before, and the little guy doesn’t really get much play. I’m going to be that little guy who makes it out of the Heat race, who makes his mark. I respect these guys, and I want to be part of all of this.
“We will have to see how we make out with our new plan in this new atmosphere. After this weekend, we have a short break and then we are on the road for five races. J.R. Addison will be taking my bikes across the country, we will share expenses.
“After the big Springfield AFT National (May 26/27), the next weekend is the Flat Track Canada National at Welland, and we will take our single to that if everything works out. And I’m still trying to work out a program for Mopar CSBK, maybe a 600cc program for Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in August.”
Among the supporters for Lawrence on the American Flat Track tour in 2018 are Town Moto, John Briggs, American Harley-Davidson, Arai Helmets, Full Bore, Side Boots and MotoNation.
Wednesday, 04 April 2018 22:03 Published in News
When we reached Doug Lawrence early (very early!) on Tuesday, March 6, he is heading south for the traditional launch of the flat track racing season. The 32-year-old former Flat Track Canada National Champ is in a van with his father, taking their twin cylinder “framers” to Georgia and then Florida.
“We’re going to South Carolina for a Wednesday Practice Day, on their three-eighths of a mile track,” starts Lawrence, who is letting Doug Sr. handle the driving on this leg of the trip. “Then we head to Savanah, Georgia for another three-eights mile facility and another Test Day. On Friday, we race the opening AMA All-Stars round at Savannah, the series that is a step below the American Flat Track National tour.”
“Then it’s on to Volusia Speedway Park in Florida for another All-Star round. We’ll be back in Canada on the 17th, and then we will announce our 2018 sponsorship package. Right now, I can confirm that my long-time supporters John Briggs and Town Moto are on-board.”
Lawrence has some choices to make in terms of equipment, and one of the goals of the trip will be to develop their years-in-the-making, Big A-framed Kawasaki 650 Ninja Twin. As well, their established and successful Harley-Davidson XR750 will be available, and likely be the preferred option, at least initially, on the short ovals. For the first time, Lawrence is not bringing any single cylinder racers with his for his spring journey south.
“I think the Harley will be better at first, but the goal is to get up to speed with the Kawasaki. We have a couple of engine packages available for the Kawasaki, different set-ups. We want to get the most out of each package, and ride the bike that works the best for the specific track conditions.
“We’re uncomfortable with the idea of using the Harley a lot,” admits the junior Lawrence, referring to the rare, collectable and costly to run air-cooled v-twins. “We don’t want to waste the XR750. The bigger tracks will suit the Kawasaki for sure, it will be more reliable and have better acceleration off the corners. The cornering speed is higher with the Harley, but the Kawasaki works better in a pack situation.”
Lawrence has achieved significant success on American-based Kawasaki liquid-cooled twins, riding for other teams, during the past few seasons in the U.S.
“I’ve had a few offers to ride for American Teams, but to be honest, these opportunities appeal but the machinery would not be as good as our bikes. I know what it takes to win, and the key is preparation.”
Talking about the opposition at the major races south of the border, Lawrence explains that “the Indians will be good again in American Flat Track, there could be as many as ten Indians in a Main event, but the new privateer bikes will take some figuring out.
“My goal is to get up to the pace, and that shouldn’t take too long,” continues the racer known as Fresh. “We’re not going to do the opening American Flt Track round, the Daytona TT, but we are aiming for the second event a month from now at Atlanta. That track is ‘D shaped,’ another three-eighths mile layout, and this year will be the second year Atlanta is a National.
“My initial plans for this year involve a focus on the States, as well as some races in Canada, places like Welland and Ohsweken. Right now I have eight races of American Flat Track circled on the calendar, and then we will see how it is all going.
“Our plan is to do the initial sweep out West in the U.S., and then regroup during the break and see what makes sense. In Canada, we’re looking toward the possible all-Twins feature class in 2019 with Flat Track Canada, and the goal is to come up with a sensible plan with sensible budget numbers.
“Recently, it has taken at least two or three bikes to win the National Championship in Canada, and the Twins class would match us up with what is going on south of the border, and control some cost factors. This would also allow more young Canadian racers to compete in the States, too.
“For me, I aim to do less but be more focused, be happy with my overall effort and confident in the direction. I want to get back to where I’ve been in terms of success, and I can do that.
“I still plan to roadrace at the Mopar CSBK rounds if I can, but those plans are still in the works and I don’t want to spread myself too thin. It will be a weird year, it will be busy early in the States, and then we will make plans for the rest of the season based on how things are going.
Lawrence aims to open his 2018 National Tour in a month at Dixie Speedway in Woodstock, Georgia, April 7. From there, he aims to head west to Texas, California and Arizona.
Tuesday, 06 March 2018 08:13 Published in News